Thousands line St. Joseph Blvd. for Santa's Parade of Lights

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In what has become a holiday tradition like no other, thousands of people lined St. Joseph Blvd. Saturday night to take in Santa's Parade of Lights and welcome the jolly old elf himself back to town.

For most who lined the route, including the Houle family from Navan, the parade marks the official start to the Christmas season.

"It starts for me with the parade," said Cheryl Houle, who was at the parade with her husband Charles, their son Chase, 5, and Chase's grandparents, all of whom were decked out in lights and red antlers.

"We've been coming for seven years now," added. Charles. "It's an absolutely fantastic tradition and it's a beautiful night. The last few years it's been really cold, but this is perfect."

Andrew and Elaine Hewitt have been bringing their daughter Kathleen, 9, and son William, 6, to the parade ever since they were born. And while the parade has become a family tradition, it's also a reminder of another very important annual event.

"It forces me to get the Christmas lights up again," said Andrew.

This year's parade had 78 entries. Including five fire trucks; two marching bands; four horses, including two of the miniature variety; two live bands including Orléans own Black Cherry Band; a dozen cancan dancers; 48 elves; and 62 inflatable snowmen.

Orléans' French-language schools were also well represented in the parade with floats from Béatrice-Desloges, Garneau and Louis-Riel high schools along with entries from L'Odyssée, Le Prélude, L'Étoile de l'Est, and Des Voyageurs elementary schools, to name just a few.

Entries from Bilberry Baptist Church and Grace Presbyterian reminded everyone of the true meaning of Christmas, and the Ottawa Fire Department band serenaded everyone with a number of holiday classics.

The float on which the people riding on it were having arguably the most of all was the Sonshine Hot Tub Service complete with an operating hot tub.

The parade is organized by the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association under the direction of co-chairs Bob Rainboth and Ken Walton. Members of the association collected donations along the route which will be used to purchase presents for families facing financial hardship this time of year.

Organizations: Bilberry Baptist Church, Ottawa Fire Department, Sonshine Hot Tub Service Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association

Geographic location: Navan, L'Étoile de l'Est

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